[Met Performance] CID:43820
Tristan und Isolde {97} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/30/1909.


Metropolitan Opera House
March 30, 1909


Tristan.................Carl Burrian
Isolde..................Johanna Gadski
Kurwenal................Walter Soomer
Brangäne................Louise Homer
King Marke..............Robert Blass
Melot...................Adolph Mühlmann
Sailor's Voice..........Albert Reiss
Shepherd................Albert Reiss
Steersman...............Julius Bayer

Conductor...............Alfred Hertz

Unsigned review in the Tribune (Krehbiel?)

A performance of Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" was given at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday, which began at 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon, was interrupted for an hour and fifty minutes after the first act, and was then resumed and continued to the end. Why such an experiment should have been tried it is not easy to explain on rational grounds. It enabled Mr. Hertz to restore some excisions which Mr. Mahler had unwisely made last year, and to that extent it was commendable; but not altogether necessary. It was well that those who wished to hear Isolde's exoneration from Brangäne's lips in the last act should do so, but that might have been done in a continuous performance, as has been the case for twenty years. But there were delightful features in the performance. For one thing it served to indicate how powerful a hold Wagner's tragedy has upon the public; for, in spite of the awkward time, there was a fine audience in attendance and the performance, most admirable in every respect, did not fail of appreciation in a single point. It was not wholly an unexpurgated performance. There were cuts, and there is no reason why there should not be cuts. It is an unfortunate habit of composers to disregard the capacity of the public for endurance. Wagner is not the only one whose works have had to suffer curtailment in order that the public might be kept inside the theatre till the close of a lyric drama. Meyerbeer was another, and before him Rossini quit going to the Académie in Paris when his operas were performed because he could not endure their dismemberment. Someone once met him on the street and asked him if he were not going to the opera. "What are they playing?" he asked. "Guillaume Tell." "Indeed! Which act?" Now, an abbreviation of "Tristan und Isolde'" is in something of a different case than a heroic curtailment of "Guillaume Tell," but it is still possible to accomplish it without serious offence to either the genius of the poet-composer or the enjoyment of the listeners. So admirable was yesterday's representation that surely no one missed an omitted note or word. From beginning to end the principal performers sang and played as if inspired. For them, at least, it was a special occasion. Mme. Gadski may have poured forth a greater plenitude and opulent beauty of voice on some other occasion, but if so it is not easy to recall when. So, also, Mr. Burrian, Mme. Homer Mr. Soomer and Mr. Blass. Everything under Mr. Hertz's direction was splendidly uplifting.

Unsigned review in the New York Times:


A Large Audience Hears the Special Performance at the Metropolitan Opera House

The Sixth of the series of special performances at the Metropolitan opera House was given yesterday. It was a performance of "Tristan und Isolde," that had certain parts of the score which have been cut out in the last two seasons in the representations under Mr. Mahler's direction restored to their places. It was not, however, a performance of the complete score, for there were still large omissions that have been customary in most opera houses where the work is given for the general public. Nevertheless, a special character was given to this performance by beginning it at the unaccustomed hour of 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon, and leaving an intermission of nearly two hours before the second act was begun. There was an audience that, considering the circumstances, and the fact that it was outside of the subscription, was very large.

The performance, which was under the direction of Mr. Hertz, was a beautiful one, and made a deep impression on the audience. Mme. Gadski took Mme. Fremstad's place as Isolde, appearing in this part for the first time this season. Her impersonation, which is well remembered, has gained in dramatic potency and in significant detail, in ease, and authority. It was always sung in beautiful voice, as it was last evening. The rest of the cast has been heard in "Tristan" this season. Mr. Burrian being the Tristan and making a strong and effective figure, his singing was uncommonly good. Mr. Soomer again earned high praise through his vigorous and vital representation of Kurwenal, and Mme. Homer was at her best in the part of Brangaene, which she has made so thoroughly her own in recent times. The performance as a whole was on a very high plane of excellence in dramatic power and in musical beauty.

Letter to the editor published in the 4/5/09 edition of The New York Times


"Mahlersection" Should Make Composer Turn in His Grave.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

The performance at the Metropolitan without cuts of "Tristan and Isolde," and that recently of "Die Meistersinger," bring to mind with great force some of the bitter denunciatory expressions of Richard Wagner respecting the mutilation of his works at the hands of "celebrated conductors." His works in his day were cut, but it is doubtful whether they were ever Mahlersected as has been the fate of his masterpiece, "Tristan and Isolde," for the last two seasons. I would point out that the difference between any ordinary cutting process directed with some semblance of judgment and Mahlersection might be, in a degree, compared to the difference between the work of a surgeon and that of a vivisector. The life, at least of the subject, in the one case, may be spared.

The cuts of Mr. Mahler are enough to make Richard Wagner turn in his grave, particularly the cuts between Tristan's death and the commencement of the "Liebestod," the "Liebestod," in the Mahler arrangement, or rather derangement, being introduced by a very awkward and inappropriate musical acrobatic feat instead of being led up to by the marvelously beautiful and pathetic introduction written by Wagner. The argument of necessary time-saving cannot be applied to this particular case, as the time saved is not worth talking about. It is pure musical vandalism, and the Metropolitan management is to be most highly commended for giving at least an occasional unmutilated performance of these great works.

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